Monday, October 13, 2014
28th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Gal 4:22-24, 26-27, 31—5:1
Gospel: Luke 11:29-32
As the crowd increased, Jesus began to speak in this way, “People of the present time are evil people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation. The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here there is greater than Jonah.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
To people asking for signs, Jesus offered the sign of Jonah who stayed inside the belly of a whale prior to preaching repentance to the people of Nineveh. Jesus said to them: “People of the present time are evil people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah.” What did Jonah stand for? Jesus explained: “As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation.”
Both the Son and Man and Jonah experienced “burial”; Jonah was buried, so to speak, inside the belly of a while, while the Son of Man was buried in a cave. As burial is associated with death, Jonah’s stay in the belly of the whale and the stay of the Son of Man inside the tomb invite us to die to ourselves. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat,” Jesus said. Both Jonah and the Son of Man, therefore stand as signs of dying to self, which is another term for repentance.
Jonah’s experience of burial was associated with the sea while the case of the Son of Man was associated with the ground. In Jonah’s case, the sea, taken in those times as symbol of uncertainty, underlines the fact that the reward of repentance as preached by Jonah was yet undefined. In the case of the Son of Man, the ground which stands for stability and firmness, underlines the certitude of resurrection that penitents stand to inherit if they persevere in a life of repentance.
The case of Jonah was inferior to the case of the Son of Man. Yet at the preaching of Jonah the people of Nineveh readily turned away from their sins. This rendered all the more glaring the indifference of the Jews who stubbornly rejected the Son of Man’s call to repentance. Now we understand why Jesus refused to perform more signs. He was the greater sign – greater than Jonah who was taken as an important sign by the people of Nineveh. But they never took Jesus seriously.
Prayer for the day: God our Father, make us sensitive to the sign of the times so that guided by your Holy Spirit we may turn away from our sins. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SAINT OF THE DAY: OUR LADY OF FATIMA whose feast is celebrated at its Diocesan Shrine at Basak, Mandaue City and at the Spiritual Pastoral Formation House of the Archdiocese of Cebu.